Organic food really is a fantastic idea, with only one drawback as far as I know.
Firstly the good points – organic produce is better for you, containing more vitamins and minerals and less harmful chemicals. A growing body of research suggests that organic foods contain more vitamin C, magnesium and iron, as well as anitoxidants. Furthermore there are no unpleasant leftover chemicals on the produce. Organic produce also tends to be more ethical – The Soil Association ensures that farmers use good practice as well as not using chemicals on their crops. This includes promoting wildlife around their farms, and treating animals they might have on the farm better – organic in this sense also means free range, high animal welfare and no routine use of anitbiotics amongst animals which has been linked to later human resistance to the drugs, and is only necessary if the animals are kept in cramped and dirty conditions.
The fertilisers from non-organic farming also get into drinking water sources. This leads to a process of eutrophication with rapidly accelerated algae growth reducing the oxygen content of water and killing fish. Councils in the UK have to pay GBP120m every year to deal with this problem. Using pesticides to kill insects also drives away anything that eats insects – so organic farms will always have more butterflies, birds, beetles and also wild flowers that need the insects for pollination.
Organic does not just cover crops either – you can now get organic clothing (made from organically grown cotton or wool), and meat that is reared on organic feed.
The only drawback is that organic farming is much more difficult, especially in developing countries. This means that firstly, crops are more prone to disease, pests, etc. which can leave poor farmers without their source of food and income. The other problem is that without the artificial fertiliser/pesticides it is not possible to farm nearly as intensively, and this means that to grow the same amount of produce a larger farm is needed. How do you get a larger farm? Well, often you simply don’t, so the organic farmer would have to put up with reduced yields, and potentially with no increase in income if the developing country has no organic schemes set up, which will often be the case. Another common way of getting more land sadly is often achieved by deforestation, which leads also to the destruction of animals’ natural habitats, desertification and many other associated problems.
So as good as organic seems, and is, just take what people say with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, the higher price tag really is more than worth it, so if you possibly can I would strongly recommend buying organic.
For more, visit http://www.soilassociation.org/